Heko Rais Magufuli

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Grace Mugabe must be a lesson to African presidents and first ladies

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Grace Ntombizodwa Marufu Mugabe is a controversial person who burst onto the scene out of the blue. A typist in the office of the then Zimbabwe’s prime minister, Robert Mugabe, was cut for big things. Who knew she’d catch the eye of the PM; and start an affair while the two were still married? Grace graced herself for yet many more wonders. When Mugabe’s first wife Sarah died, Grace disgracefully divorced her husband, air force pilot Stanley Goreraza and married president Mugabe henceforth starting to eat life with a big spoon as the first lady.
 Thanks to her extravagance, Grace secured a moniker Gucci. Evidence? After falling from grace, Grace recently admitted to have spent $500,000 annually renting a house in Dubai for her son Robert Mugabe Jr. who’s studying there. If she were considerate of other and frugal, this amount would get her a normal house in the outskirt of Dubai. Further, the Mugabes spent HK$40 million in 2009 to purchase an apartment for their daughter Bona who’s then studying in Hong Kong.   Ironically, while the Mugabes were spending such a humongous amount of money junior doctors were paid just less than $329 per month before allowances. The money the Mugabes spent on the rent of their kids is huge by all standards. Even people in rich countries will tell you this is not joke money. For poor Zimbabweans–who were going to bed with empty stomachs–such money is a fortune. The story of the Mugabes does not end up here.  It was reported that when Mugabe’s daughter got married she received a cool $100,000 and 55 heads of cattle from her father, $35,000 from her mother, $50,000 from her mother’s partner in diamond deals Ihmad Ahmed whereas the total sum the couple got as presents from Mugabe dynasty and its partners on that day was $225, 000 and 65 heads of cattle. While Mrs. Mugabe was spending big bucks on her children, she did not forget herself.  In 2009, for example, she said to have spent £55,000 (S$98,600) buying worth of marble statues in Vietnam and a £8,700 handbag in Singapore. Nonetheless, nobody knows the actual amount of money Mrs. Mugabe stole or squandered in the entire her husband was in power.
Grace wasn’t only extravagant but also politically ambitious. Exploiting her husband’s advanced age, she tried to succeed him had anything undesirable happen.  However, this project evaporated after her husband was toppled last year.
Furthermore, Grace didn’t only rob public coffers but she also plundered other resources. It recently came to light after the new authorities started to investigate Grace that she used her Chinese associates to run an ivory smuggling ring. Further, sources from the authorities admitted that Grace’s facing a forensic audit by the ruling ZANU–PF’s women’s league over “hundreds of millions” of party funds not to mention involvement in setting up parallel money markets as well as illegal export of precious minerals. Other Grace’s foreign accomplices are the Dubai-based businessmen Imad Ahmad and his nephew Ramzi Mali who specifically used to deal in diamonds stolen from and smuggled out of Zimbabwe under the directions of the first lady. The Daily News (21 March, 2018) in its interview with Grace’s former right hand woman Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, reports that former First Lady occasionally raided the country’s ivory stockpile kept at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) and on the basis that they’re her donations to unnamed fellow first ladies in the Far East. The big blow for Grace came after an Australian wildlife photographer, Andrew Steirn, confronted Zimbabwean authorities with evidence implicating her. Further, the Daily News quotes Steirn as saying that “ivory was being sourced either from the national park’s vault, being thieved or pilfered, or from live elephants being killed by poaching syndicates. The syndicate would then sell to Grace Mugabe’s clientele.” Neither Grace nor her lawyers recanted this expose which the authorities in Zimbabwe admitted to have been investigating.
Under bedroom politics, Grace’s able to use her sharing bed with president to live large and think about becoming the president herself. What a disgrace by Grace!
Now that Grace’s dirt linens are on the agora. Will she face what Madame Mao Zedong faced after the death of her husband? Will Grace’s future be like that of Simone Gbagbo former Ivorian first lady who was jailed after her husband was toppled? Will Grace be as lucky as Philippines’ former first lady Imelda Gucci Marcos who survived despite the toppling of her stinking corrupt husband?
Indeed, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Who knew an illiterate first lady like Grace would mislead and bring down a hyper academic like Mugabe? Truly, Grace Mugabe’s a truly African first lady.

Arguably, Grace’s aloofness, corruption, greed, myopia and treachery show how African presidents are manipulated by their spouses so as to sabotage them hugely while they receive salaries and live on taxpayers’ money. This means; African presidency needs to be decolonised, detoxified and sanitised to see to it that nobody uses as a family business as it is Mugabe’s legacy among others.
Source: Citizen, today April, 4, 2018.

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